by Jack Diablo
Album: The Boxing Lesson – Health is the New Drug 7”
Label: New Fortune Records
Release Date: February 21, 2012

With their earlier stuff, the Boxing Lesson seemed ill-fated to become some sort of Pink Floyd-obsessed jam band. Plus, I’m admittedly sensitive to the presentation and packaging of one’s music. Pretentious and superficial perhaps, but I appreciate the importance of good design enough so that if you use the wrong font on your album cover, I’m going to judge it that much differently. However, their newest foray into space rock demonstrates a stronger Secret Machines/Trail of Dead influence, which makes for some interesting bluesy Texas Psyche for the 21st Century (and much improved album art!). These guys are modern-classic ATX who have replaced the bass guitar with a trio of synthesizers, but keep it traditional with epic, wailing Gilmour-esque guitar solos. This particular bit of songwriting actually focuses on healthy living rather than drug-induced, mind-bending psychedelic experiences, which is cool, I guess. A part of me just wants this band to be instrumental, as that’s what they truly excel at but, either way, these are some pretty intense progressive stoner jams. Decide for yourself when they play Burro Bar on February 22. RIYL: Pink Floyd, Lupine Howl, Secret Machines

Album: Busdriver – Beaus$Eros
Label: Fake Four Inc.
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Fringe experimental hip hop artist Busdriver returns with another album out of left field. Beaus$Eros finds the emcee teaming up with Belgian producer, Loden, to create an impressive project despite their never having met. It’s got some gorgeous, glitchy electronic beats paired with Busdriver’s intelligent, artistic lyrics. Definitely a fun listen and a nice change of pace. Oh yeah, he slept on my couch once.

Album: The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know
Label: Fat Cat
Release Date: February 7, 2012
No One Can Ever Know is the impressive follow up to the Scottish band’s previous release Forget the Night Ahead, an album reviewed on these very pages. This time, they’ve incorporated a heavy dose of synthesizer for a more Depeche Mode/the Cure kind of sound. Their last album had a bit of melancholy to it, but this newer one is even darker. After the band’s scheduled SXSW appearance in March, they’ll be sure to turn up on the radar more often.

Album: Wymond Miles – Earth Has Doors EP
Label: Sacred Bones
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Sacred Bones is fast becoming a go-to record label for finding darker material that truly pushes the envelope. Wymond Miles is the guitar player and songwriter for the Fresh & Onlys. He has finally released his solo album after four years of writing on such obscure thematic content as eschatology, anthroposophy and Hermetic symbolism. Yeah, I don’t know what that means either, but the music is fantastic, ethereal and sublime. It’s considerably different from the Fresh & Onlys but is a powerful, transcendent listen with poignant subject matter that is well worth exploring.

Album: Nitrogods – Nitrogods
Label: Steamhammer SPV
Release Date: February 28, 2012
I thought for sure I was going to hate this album, and was almost certain when the country-tinged hard rock guitar opened the first track. But when the vocalist came in with his gravelly Lemmy growl, I changed my tune just a bit. I don’t know if I would claim to like this album, but there things about it I can appreciate. If there has to be a German psychobilly version of Motorhead, I guess Nitrogods are them.

Album: Christian Mistress – Possession
Label: Relapse
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Christian Mistress are a NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal for the uninitiated) band from Olympia, WA whose latest album comes to us via the venerable Relapse Records. Relapse has been branching out quite a bit lately, devoting considerable A&R resources to exploring nearly every sub-genre in metal. Traditional metal fronted by female vocalists seems to be on the rise (particularly in the Pacific Northwest) but for as much as I want to like it, I find it kind of boring. There are so many cool directions to take in metal that you really have to nail the traditional stuff to make an impression. I could see Possession growing on me or impressing me live though.